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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Tax and the self employed
Should you be paying money on your honey?
Should you be paying money on your honey?
The key thing to remember about tax is that if you make money at something the chances are it is liable to tax.

A lot of people have hobbies, sidelines or freelance work they think won't be liable to tax - but this is wrong.

If you are buying and selling items on a market stall or sell lots of honey as a beekeeper, you're carrying out a trading activity and it is liable to tax.

If you are self-employed, you need to register for Schedule D status at your local tax office.

The tax office will want to check that your status is genuine and you are earning your living from a variety of different sources

If more than 80% of your income comes from just one employer, it may well advise you that you are not eligible for Schedule D status and will have to pay tax on the Pay As You Earn system (Schedule E).

Once the Revenue has accepted your Schedule D status, however, you will be able to start counting a proportion of your household costs against your business activities, so if you use a study in your house for work you can start working out how much of your electricity and heating you are using when at work.

Tax returns

The self-employed always have to fill in a tax return as part of self-assessment - the principles of the system are the same for everyone but as a self-employed business person you may also have to fill in extra sections of the tax return.

Tax has to be paid twice a year in instalments every six months under the self-assessment system, known as "payment on account".

Payments on account have to be made for the tax year before the return for that year is due - so on 31 January in the tax year and by 31 July after the end of the tax year.

You will also be liable to pay National Insurance Contributions and these have to be deducted at regular intervals.

VAT

Whether or not it is worth registering for VAT depends on the turnover of your business activities. Unless your business is likely to have a turnover worth more than 60,000, it is generally not worth it but your local Customs & Excise office can advise on the best course of action.

The most important aspect of self-employment and the tax system is that it is imperative to keep good records - never throw away old receipts, invoices or accounts as it is a legal requirement to keep everything relating to the business for a number of years.

The Tax Return (SA100) and the self-employment supplementary pages (SA103) will both apply to you - other forms may be relevant, but details of which forms apply are set out on page two of the tax return itself.

If you have any queries about your tax status, you should contact a professional tax adviser or the Inland Revenue.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


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